DWP rate increases; our complicated tax code; attempts to control L.A. rents

Power to the . . . ?

Re “Council OKs 4.5% power rate increase,” April 15

All the posturing by the City Council, the mayor and the Department of Water and Power was for show. They are nothing but a big cabal, and in the end, as usual, the ratepayer got the short end of the stick.

There was never any doubt they would raise power rates -- an entity like the DWP has grown fat on the money of its overcharged ratepayers, and the mayor and City Council wanted the $73.5-million payment to feed the city beast (also shortchanging the taxpayer.)

I guess they think that the people of this city must be incredibly gullible to believe their pap.

To the DWP and city government: The next time you want to raise rates -- like, next week or next month -- save us the drama. Just do it. No one believes your lies.

Tim Luckett
Beverly Hills

Re “Rationing is a factor in water line breaks,” April 14

The geniuses at the DWP are so worthless, they couldn’t even figure out that our ancient water pipes might break under grossly uneven pressures created by rationing. So they respond by adding obscene raises to unjustifiably bloated salaries?

Where’s the oversight and accountability? More important, who’s going to flush out these crooks and when?

We need to fix a lot more than just water mains.

Beverly Delott
Pacific Palisades

Re “Ban on rent hikes proposed,” April 15

On the very same day the L.A. City Council votes to hike DWP rates 4.5% (with more to come), Councilman Richard Alarcon calls for the passage of a one-year moratorium on rent increases for 600,000 apartments.

Alarcon says the economic downturn has hurt families living in those buildings. Apparently he feels that the economic downturn has skipped over the owners of apartments, even though there are thousands of rentals available at rents much lower than in years past.

The hypocrisy of this proposal should be apparent to anyone -- tenant or landlord -- who is the least bit fair.

Anthony L. Czarnecki

Tax code transparency

Re “Two mavericks take on the tax code,” Opinion, April 15

The U.S. federal tax code contains more than 60,000 pages; reportedly even IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, like 60% of taxpayers, employs accountants. The IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service has estimated that Americans annually expend 7.6 billion work hours grappling with required IRS filings -- efforts equal to the work of 3.8 million full-time employees.

California adds its own hyper-complex and fabulously politicized income tax filing burdens.

While applauding the federal tax simplification efforts of Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), how about starting the simplification process locally? Give California taxpayers the option of paying a simple fixed percentage of their federal income tax as state income tax. Attaching a single-page signed form to a copy of their IRS filing should be sufficient documentation.

The benefits for both Sacramento government and taxpayers would be instant and enormous. In fact, this small-business owner would support paying marginally more in California taxes if it saves time and accounting expenses.

Robert I. Schwartz
Thousand Oaks

Wars and those who fight them

Re “Bringing war home,” Editorial, April 11

War is messy. It always has been. Whether you arrive in battle as a draftee or a volunteer, you never have a real picture in your head of what killing and preventing your death is all about.

Putting patriotism aside, I want to thank the writer of this editorial for not pulling any punches -- for saying it like it is. I hope that we can all learn the true lesson here, and cease killing the large numbers of youth selected to serve the interests of war and political profiteers in the name of a just cause.

The only true just cause is the preservation of our humanity through forgiveness, understanding and tolerance for our human limitations.

C.C. Barron
The writer is a veteran.

Imagine if we had had in 2003 a mainstream media that questioned more actively the reasons the Bush/Cheney administration concocted for our unprovoked invasion of Iraq? A vigorous media might have stalled -- if not prevented -- the disastrous Iraqi misadventure. Let’s face it, the likes of a WikiLeaks would not be necessary in America if our media would stop being stenographers for the powerful and would do their jobs as journalists.

Though we need to question the performance of soldiers in the conduct of their military service, we need even more to scrutinize the political leaders that place those soldiers into harm’s way.

Bob Teigan
Santa Susana, Calif.

Justice and judges

Re “Keeping justice blind,” Opinion, April 13

Bravo to Jonah Goldberg for his efforts to keep even 5% of a Supreme Court justice’s heart away from the concerns of ordinary people (except, of course, for the newly minted corporations-as-people.)

I only wish he had cited Anatole France, who said: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets and to steal bread.”

Goldberg, in my view, has one of the finest legal minds of the 19th century.

Gene Rothman
Culver City

Liberals’ “empathy-for-the-little-guy standard” may be more than just “a Trojan horse for an approach just as abstract as any endorsed by the right.”

Perhaps we liberals view Justice John Paul Stevens with an appreciation of the compassion and understanding of others that has grown in him during his tenure on the court.

Clarence Thomas’ selfishness, on the other hand, saddens us -- with his hypocrisy in using the system to his advantage and then attempting to close the door behind him so that no one else may follow.

Roger Humes

Not so safe at UCLA

Re “Man held in UCLA assaults,” April 14

As a frequent visitor to the UCLA area, I’m frightened that I now have to look out for a molester when I come into the neighborhood.

Although it’s great to hear that Calixto Marcellana Nitro was arrested, why was he booked on suspicion of sexual battery, a misdemeanor, and then released on his written promise to appear in court May 12?

Come on -- someone who is allegedly responsible for at least seven sexual assaults should be held in jail until trial. Just because Nitro promised he would appear on his court date doesn’t mean he won’t attack more women before then.

I will avoid UCLA and the surrounding areas until he is in jail.

Genie Brantman
Los Angeles